South Africa’s government policy is not determined by the ruling African National Congress’ labour and communist allies but by the cabinet, President Jacob Zuma said today.
Recent speculation that labour federation COSATU and the South African Communist Party was pushing policy to the left was a “feverish pre-occupation with a ‘left takeover’ of the ANC”, Zuma said in a weekly letter written as ANC president.
“There is nothing therefore in the argument that the alliance partners determine the policy of the ANC,” Zuma said.
The comments were Zuma’s first public remarks on suggestions that ANC economic policy is shifting under pressure from the left.
Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was excluded from the cabinet’s economic planning and decision making clusters last week. That, and the resignation of key government policy advisor Joel Netshitenzhe, fuelled investor concern that Zuma’s allies may be pressuring him to change policies.
Zuma said the ANC classified itself as an organisation of the left because of its history as a liberation movement and bias towards the poor and workers.
He said only the South African cabinet determined economic policy and not individual ministers.
“Though there are ministers responsible for coordinating economic policy, they do not determine policy. That is the function of cabinet, drawing on the positions of the ANC which is the key policy formulator, guided by the mandate of the electorate.”
Zuma said policy should be debated, but cautioned that certain policy positions should not be associated with individuals.
“As soon as we start associating government policy with one individual, we risk forgetting that these policies are developed collectively and reflect an organisational position,” Zuma said.